Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

A dear, dear friend once told me he admired the fact that no matter how much life knocked me down; I kept getting back up again.      I thought that was a good thing, but lately I’ve been wondering if it just means I’m too stupid to know when to stay down….
Most of the time, I’m a pretty upbeat person.      I’m generally in a good mood and can laugh about pretty much any situation.     But once in awhile, it gets me—life’s penchant for loving to just piss all over me that is.     I can’t help but wonder why some folks just sort of tap dance thru life with nary a care….

Of course, I’m only viewing things from the outside.   I have no idea what goes on when they’re in private.      Even in today’s all-access world, there are still some things we aren’t privy to.   Google Earth only zooms in so far.

Life’s latest little hiccough for me is the whole car thing.    I have reached the point of diminishing returns: it is not practical to put any more money into my current ride.     Okay, I took a big girl pill and crunched some numbers and came up with what I can reasonably afford for a car payment.      It ain’t much peeps.      So, my choice of vehicles is very finite…..

I got my sorry butt up and out early Saturday to clean out the last of the junk I’d left in the car when I moved [I’ve been too pooped to pop in all of this heat—and unpacking was consuming a lot of my time].    Then I drove over to a nearby car wash and got the $10.00 special to primp the old girl up a bit.    It was one of those deals where you stay with the car as it goes thru—surprise, my  recently acquired [read: since menopause] claustrophobia extends to car washes as well.     Okay E—do that Lamaze breathing thing… peak thru the suds at the lights of the officey part…. Take every opportunity to “see the light at the end of the tunnel”  [a metaphor for my life?].

Made it!     Now it’s time to go to the local gas station that has a coin operated car vacuum.     Drop $1.25 in quarters into the confusing slot area aaaannnddd….. nothing—damned thing is busted.     So I give it my best shot with a whisk broom and my fingers.     SIDEBAR:  I am very neat at work and do my best to keep my apartment organized and straightened up, but I am a slob in my car!!  Bad Girl, E. BAD!!!

Alright, so I get Bessie quasi presentable and head over to a local dealer to look at a car I saw on their website.     I have a 3pm appointment.      I get there, but the car is at their other lot about 20 minutes away.    Okay—they’ll bring it back over.   I’ll be patient and wait cause it’s in my price range and their handy dandy payment calculator told me the payment would be under $100.00.      I could do that……

Guess what folks—you can no longer finance a car that is over 5 years old OR one that has over 100K miles on it.  WTF??!!??    What are poor schlubs like me supposed to do.      Okay—I do some rapid mental math [my 5th & 6th Grade nuns would be in shock, believe me] and decide if I give up doing anything extra like, I don’t know, say eating, I could handle around $135.00 or so a month.      Okay, the guy lets me test drive a really nice 2004 Nissan Sentra.   Only 44K miles on it.   Alright—me likes.     He tells me with what I have to put down, and the paltry sum they will give me for poor Bessie,  He can get me a payment of $139.00 a month.    By now it is almost 5:00, so their assorted financial institutions are gone for the day.   We do the whole app thing—he graciously shows me my credit score, which is about a B—B+.   Not bad, girlfriend!        We shake hands and he says they will be in touch on Monday afternoon.

So, I go home, mentally arranging my existence to accommodate this turn of events—and starting to look forward to driving an automatic sweet little car [My messed up knee cannot handle stick shift anymore, unfortunately.]

Well guess what—because I am being responsible and VOLUNTARILY put myself in a debt management program to get rid of my credit card debt, I was turned down for financing.

Yep—peed on yet again.    Sheesh.

So, now it’s see if I can get a loan thru a bank myself…. Why does everything have to be so hard???

“Into each life a little rain must fall….”      Yeah, well I’ve got hurricanes over here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

the purpose of playing..... was and is, to hold as 'twere the mirror up to nature~ Hamlet, III-2

The process of exploring RABBIT HOLE has started—and it’s proving challenging. Lots of my personal life is coming up. Like Nat, I’m a mother and a grandmother. Like this family, I have dealt with the aftermath of sudden, tragic death. Like Nat, I’ve struggled financially. And, like her, I tend to run off at the mouth sometimes. Yeah—a lot of my personal life is coming up……

But that has happened many times throughout my years of theatre.

Tackling Laura in THE GLASS MENAGERIE allowed me to examine my own insecurities from my childhood. I saw how sometimes I let life live me instead of taking control. “I got to put courage in you for livin’, honey.” When I was 35, I played the title role in EDUCATING RITA, about a woman who wants more than just hanging out at the pub at night. She signs up for an Adult Ed. course at the university and it has a profound effect on her life. At the time I was grappling with whether I could find the money and time to go to college and be a mom. I couldn’t, so that dream is still floating out there, but I’ll make it happen someday. And I think I’ll appreciate it all the more for having had to wait.

When I did the 3rd scene/monologue in THREE VIEWINGS about a woman dealing with the loss of her husband, I was trying to process the loss of my marriage. Divorce wasn’t supposed to happen to me and I was kind of at a loss as to what to do next. Virginia had been shielded by her husband and was now alone and scared. Mastering her struggle gave me the strength to work through mine. Directing INDEPENDENCE and CHILDE BYRON gave me new insights into family dynamics and parenting in general, as well as my approach to it in particular. I channeled strength and female empowerment from directing TALKING WITH and “paid back” all the nuns who tortured me with SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU. Playing Regan in KING LEAR—the second daughter caught in the middle of a power struggle between her father and her other two sisters—helped me see my own “middle child” traits and overcome the more restraining ones. I realized it’s not my job to make other people happy.

Actually, I think my theatrical experiences have saved me tons of couch time…. I do wonder about one thing though: what did all the hooker roles teach me?

Friday, August 6, 2010


Awhile back my daughter and I were having a discussion about leading “the life unexamined.”     More precisely, we were talking about how her father’s side of the family tended to prefer not to “poke around under the hood” too much.    Their modus operandi seemed to be “if I don’t think or talk about it, it will somehow all work itself out.”

We knew this isn’t a healthy approach, but we were also bemoaning the fact that she, her brother and I tend to go to the other extreme; we over analyze everything, down to an order for lunch.     In some ways, we envied people who just float through life, never questioning anything.    It must be so freeing.    Because, our way is exhausting, trust me.    There’s got to be a middle ground—you can’t tap dance around never delving deeper into issues, but you really shouldn’t tie yourself up in knots either…

I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember.     And I know it’s my mother’s fault. She raised all 4 of us to listen to all the information and reason out for ourselves how we felt about things.     That was pretty brave of her—she raised 4 teens in the 60s and lived to tell the tale.

I wasn’t a deliberate troublemaker as a kid, I was just used to being able to think for myself and express my viewpoints.    That didn’t go over too well in Catholic school in the 1960s.     I had a hard time understanding the point of some of the rules and wanted explanations—which, according to the teachers I wasn’t supposed to ask for.    I never took what they were teaching in Religion class at face value—I always wanted to know why.     Drove the nuns nuts I’m sure.     Good little Catholic school children were supposed to just be quiet and think the way the nuns wanted you to.

I find I still tend to question the protocol.    Very bad in Corporate America; you’re supposed to follow the “processes.”     I get frustrated, because I usually feel that’s too black and white.      Each situation needs to have its particular nuances addressed.

I know any day now that ruler is gonna come down on my knuckles again……

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

There's the humour of it. ~ The Merry Wives of Windsor

I’m embarking on a journey to discover a character. For the first time in over two years, I am taking on an acting role. The process of discovering what makes this person tick fascinates me—sometimes more so than the performances. And I use the term “person” because the character becomes very real to the actor—your new BFF sometimes. They kinda have to; you need to take ownership of them and their actions in order to play it with any truth. Actors use the pronoun “I “when discussing a scene: “What do I want from so-and-so in this moment?” “Am I supposed to give him the such-and-such now or later?”

I’ll be playing Nat, the mother of the female lead in David Lindsay Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. The play deals with a 30-something couple whose 5 year old son was killed when he darted out into the street while chasing his dog. The action takes place 9 months after Danny’s death and it deals with the roller coaster/ 1 step forward-2 steps back that is grief.

BUT—there is a great deal of humor in this piece. My character has some of the funniest lines, but I’ll also get to do a wonderful scene where I talk my daughter about living with the loss of her brother. It is such a perfect explanation of how you come to terms with the death of a loved one—especially under tragic circumstances. How the pain of it never goes away, but becomes something you carry around with you. Just a special piece of life baggage, I guess.

I am curious/concerned how my own life experience with tragic loss will impact how I play this role. Is it too close? Too soon? Only time will tell me that.

One thing I do know—without my sense of humor, life would totally suck. It has been our skewed take on things and our ability to see the absurdity that has gotten my family and me through so much ca-ca. And I’ve long since stopped worrying about other people’s reactions to my finding the humor in personal tragedies or difficult situations. In fact, I tend to think there’s something wrong with them if they can’t laugh at life’s challenges.

I guess that’s why I’m so attracted to plays that have that wonderful juxtaposition of tragedy and comedy. Most of the recent plays I’ve directed all have that in common—they’re “dramedies.” They’re so real to me—many times I have found myself laughing one minute and crying the next.

To me, that’s life.